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Sabres look to extend point streak in Calgary

Team has earned points in 4 straight games

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

CALGARY - It's been eight days since the Buffalo Sabres last met the Calgary Flames, a 3-2 overtime loss at KeyBank Center last Wednesday. The Sabres led that game in shots and scoring chances but ultimately came away disappointed with the result. 

They were able to build on the positives from that outing in the three contests since, however, and now carry a four-game point streak into their rematch with the Flames tonight at Scotiabank Saddledome. 

With a win, the Sabres can move ahead of the Florida Panthers into second place in the Atlantic Division.

"We've always, since the summer, spoken about trying to stay in the race and that's all we're fighting and scrapping and scraping to try to do," Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said this morning. "… That's all we're doing is continuing on that path of continual growth. I think every day we want to get better. 

"We've got some things we want to work on today and we'll find things to get better at right through April 4. What we want to do is keep that picture small, which we're doing. Today we have the Calgary Flames, an opposition we respect. 

"We find that's the best way for us to deal with staying in the race, and so far it's worked and may it continue. We're going to fight our best and work hard to be a competitive team in this league for not only the next few weeks, but for a long time to come."

Video: PREGAME: Krueger

Linus Ullmark will start in net for the Sabres, looking for his fourth win in five starts. He made a season-high 44 saves in a 7-1 victory over New Jersey on Monday. 

The rest of the Buffalo lineup will be announced at game time. The Sabres have dressed 11 forwards and seven defensemen throughout their current run, and Krueger spoke about the many advantages of having such a lineup after practice on Wednesday

"We're pretty deep on the back end, so it would be hard to scratch anybody right now," defenseman Marco Scandella said. "We're just rolling it, we're having a good time back there. I feel like the D, it's like a small little club that we're in and we're all pumping each other up and wishing each other well. We're having fun with it."

The team might also have the option of dressing forward Evan Rodrigues, who has been practicing this week after missing five games with a lower-body injury.


Scouting the Flames

Buffalo's last meeting with Calgary marked the first game for interim coach Geoff Ward, who has taken over amid the resignation of former coach Bill Peters. The Flames have played one game since then, a 3-1 win over Ottawa on Saturday.

Despite the change behind the bench, Krueger said he does not expect major adjustments to the Flames' brand of hockey.

"We're going to be under a lot of pressure as far as the way they play," Krueger said. "I think they play a real aggressive style. They like to put the puck under pressure with everybody all the time. You need to solve that, which is a challenge. 

"They had a really good work ethic in the game against us. It was an outstanding hockey game and we're expecting it just to keep going that way. I'm expecting a one-goal game here tonight and the little details will make the difference."

Veteran defenseman Travis Hamonic is expected to return from six-game absence, while David Rittich will make his league-leading 24th start in net. 


Number to know: 10 

The points keep coming for Jack Eichel, whose point streak is up to 10 games entering tonight. Eichel leads the NHL with 19 points in that stretch, which dates back to his four-goal outing on Nov. 16. 

We broke down the numbers behind Eichel's strong start in Wednesday's practice report.


Tune in

Coverage on MSG begins at 8:30 p.m., or you can listen to the game on WGR 550. The puck drops at 9.

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